By Adam Martin
This weekend, thanks to an injury to Gunnar Nelson, Gegard Mousasi will have the opportunity to avenge his most recent loss when he takes on Uriah Hall in the main event of Saturday's UFC Fight Night 99 event in Belfast. Nelson was originally slated to fight Dong Hyun Kim, but when the fight was scratched, the UFC was able to book this rematch between Mousasi and Hall, a rematch of one of the most shocking upsets of 2015.
It was at Saitama Arena at UFC Fight Night 75 in September 2015 that Hall shocked the world and knocked out Mousasi for the first KO loss of his career. Mousasi was absolutely dominating the fight up until the point of the knockout, winning a 10-8 first round with his grappling before he was caught with a spinning back kick while shooting in for a takedown and then knocked out with a flying knee and punches.
Since the loss to Hall, though, Mousasi has arguably looked more focused and dangerous than ever, and the results have been remarkable. After winning a decision over Thales Leites, Mousasi has knocked out Thiago Santos and Vitor Belfort in his last two fights for a three-fight win streak and an overall UFC record of 7-3. Not only has Mousasi looked great in the cage, but he's also learned to speak up on the mic and gain fan support with his outspoken criticism of PED users, keyboard warriors, and the other middleweights in the division.
Michael Bisping. However, he has to do one thing if he truly wants to get over the hump, and that's beat Hall this weekend.
In many ways, the result of the first Mousasi-Hall fight seems like a fluke, but at the end of the day it's a black mark on Mousasi's record, and he's lucky the UFC is giving him the opportunity to expunge that loss from fans’ memories. If he wants to make a run for the title, he absolutely needs to beat Hall, and he needs to beat him in convincing fashion this weekend. If he can do that, it would give Mousasi a four-fight win streak and earn him a trilogy fight with Souza or a chance to fight another top contender like Luke Rockhold.
In a division where Bisping is currently the champion, anything can happen in regards to the title picture, but for Mousasi to remain in it, he will have to avenge his loss to Hall from one year ago and prove to the MMA world it was a total fluke and that he's the better fighter. A loss, though, and it’s hard to see Mousasi in UFC title talks ever again.